The first of the year marks the end of most of the non-league matchups
in both boys and girls basketball and teams begin to get down to work
in their respective leagues. There’s also work to be done in all other winter sports as well, and several athletes packed their hardhats this past week.
The first of the year marks the end of most of the non-league matchups in both boys and girls basketball and teams begin to get down to work in their respective leagues.
As this occurs some teams are just hanging on and hoping to salvage some respectability while others are gearing up for a title run. This week will look at what to expect in the boys’ races; next week will review the girls’ races.
In the Blanchard Valley Conference the big question is whether anyone can derail the Aaron Craft Express that is otherwise known as the Liberty-Benton Eagles. Presently the Eagles are 8-0 overall and 2-0 in the league. So far, the Eagles have not really been tested but have big games coming up with league rivals, Pandora-Gilboa (6-1) and McComb (7-0), who are also undefeated in the league. Ohio State bound Craft is the real deal. Currently, he leads the BVC in scoring (25.5 ppg.) and assists (6.5 apg.) and is 5th in rebounding (8.0 rpg) and how he goes, so go the Eagles. As long as Craft stays healthy, expect Liberty-Benton to maintain their winning ways.
In the Green Meadows Conference Antwerp (5-2) and Edgerton (3-2) have posted the best non-league records to date but Antwerp must be considered the favorite based on their relatively easy victory over Edgerton in the Route 49 tournament. Defending champion and state semi-finalist Tinora (4-3) is always dangerous and must be watched as well.
Lima Senior (4-2) and Marion Harding (6-1) both are undefeated (2-0) in the league but right now no one is in clear control. Any one of four teams, throwing in Sandusky (3-2) and Findlay (4-3), still have a legitimate shot at the league championship. Only Napoleon at 2-4 overall and 0-2 in the league and Fremont Ross at 2-5 and 0-2 appear out of the running.
In the Midland Athletic League, New Riegel (6-1) is the early frontrunner with a 3-0 league record but no fewer than five teams are within one game of the Blue Jackets. Of the ten league members, six have reached the near halfway mark with winning records so balance seems to be the story this year in the MAL.
Is it any surprise that the same two teams are again fighting it out for supremacy in the Northern Lakes League? Either Perrysburg (9-1) or Southview (6-2) have been league champions for the past five years and, despite both teams suffering huge graduation losses, the Yellow Jackets and Cougars are again at the top but after the first round of games it is Perrysburg at 6-0 in the league looking down after everyone else. Southview and Bowling Green (5-3)are standing close behind but need to play flawlessly the rest of the way and get some help in order to catch Perrysburg.
Three teams, Norwalk(5-1), Bellevue (5-2), and Tiffin Columbian (4-3) lead the pack in the Northern Ohio League and the league champion will likely emerge from among this trio. Norwalk has a win over Bellevue (41-38) among its four league victories and is therefore in the driver’s seat but the season is not yet half over and there are many obstacles ahead for all three teams. A two or three loss champion is a possibility.
Like Liberty-Benton in the Blanchard Valley Conference, Evergreen (5-1) in the NWOAL has their own superstar in the form of senior Chad Mossing. Mossing (6’3” Sr.) is the Vikings’ mister everything and even though the Evergreen supporting cast might not be as strong as Liberty-Benton’s it is likely strong enough for the Vikings to continue their winning ways. Presently the Vikings are 3-0 in the league (5-1 overall) and hold key victories over Archbold (4-3) and Wauseon (4-2). The only team poised to challenge Evergreen is Delta and how serious a threat Delta is will be determined this week when the two teams meet. An Evergreen win and they can almost begin etching Evergreen’s name on the league championship trophy.
The question in the Sandusky Bay Conference is how good is Port Clinton. With only one game remaining in the first round of league action Port Clinton (7-0) is undefeated in league play (5-0) and has reached that pinnacle with relative ease. Huron (5-3) is Port Clinton’s nearest challenger and for the sake of the rest of the league they must step up and this week and upset Port Clinton or else the rest of the league will spend the second half of the season playing for second place.
Right now Otsego (4-2) sits atop the Suburban Lakes League but somehow it does not seem right not talking about either Eastwood (3-4) or Elmwood (2-5) when discussing SLL basketball. Both teams are currently playing with losing overall records but remain in the thick of the league race at 2-1. Otsego must still play both teams and, if history means anything, the SLL title still passes through Eastwood and Elmwood.
In the TAAC it has seemingly been either Ottawa Hills (7-0) or Toledo Christian (3-3) for the past several years and both teams stand atop the standings again but now a third team, Danbury (6-2), has emerged as a contender as well. Danbury and Ottawa Hills are both undefeated in the league but the jury is still out on whether or not Danbury can seriously contend. The Lakers have not faced either Toledo Christian or Ottawa Hills on the way to their 3-0 league record and also must still play a dangerous Maumee Valley (4-4) squad. The seriousness of Danbury’s challenge will become clearer once the first round of games has been completed.
The Toledo City League schedule is still in its infancy but the pre-season favorites have all jumped out early. St. John’s was the prognosticators’ choice as league champions and at 7-1 overall and 2-0 in the league they are right where the alleged experts thought they would be. Poised alongside St. John’s with 2-0 league records are Libbey (5-0), Central Catholic (6-0) and St. Francis (5-1). Waiting in the wings, only one game back, are Whitmer (5-1), Rogers (3-2), Bowsher (4-3) and Waite(1-4).
Like the City League, the Western Buckeye League has barely begun its league race. The league members have played only one league game each so a clear picture has not yet developed. Two teams, Defiance (6-0) and Van Wert (5-0) stand undefeated but five other WBL league members entry league play with winning records. At this point, the league remains wide open.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Aaron Craft, Liberty-Benton, Boys Basketball: The choice for player of the week, Aaron Craft of Liberty-Benton High School, is based on his season long performance as opposed to anything that he has done in the past week. All Craft has done in the season’s first month is to lead the area in points per game (25.5 ppg), lead his league (Blanchard Valley Conference) in assists (6.5 apg) and direct his team to a perfect 7-0 record. Overall, the Ohio State bound senior has been nothing short of sensational and causing quite a stir among basketball fans in northwest Ohio.
TEAM OF THE WEEK
Bowling Green Hockey: The Bowling Green Bobcat hockey team has been one of the state best hockey programs for a number of years but has struggled in the past few years. This week, however, the Bobcats returned to notoriety by upsetting league rival, Sylvania Northview, 3-0. Northview came into the contest ranked number 6 in the state but it was the Bobcats that played like the ranked team.
NEWS, NOTES & NUGGETS
Another Ladykat Great One: Sylvania Northview’s list of outstanding basketball players is a long one but one more can be added to the list as senior Olivia Fouty passed the 1,000 career point mark as she scored 25 points in her team’s 70-35 victory over Toledo St. Ursula. Fouty has already signed to play collegiately with Eastern Michigan University.
Titans Soar: Lakewood St. Edwards visited Toledo St. Johns this past week and did so ranked as the state’s number 2 team in Division I boys’ basketball. For the first 16 minutes St. Edwards played like their advance billing but an outstanding third period by the Titans proved to be the difference in the game as they downed the Eagles, 69-64.
Delayed Loss: Elida’s Reggie McAdams provided some excitement this week as he forced overtime in his team’s game with Lima Senior. With time expiring, McAdams heaved a desperation shot from beyond the half court line that somehow found its way home. The shot, however, only delayed the outcome for a few more minutes as Elida eventually lost to Lima Senior, 69-67.
Football Retirement: Monroeville’s head football coach, Steve Ringholz, announced his retirement after 32 years at the helm. It has been speculated all season that Ringholz would step down after this season and now it is official. Ringholz will also be retiring as a teacher for the Monroeville school system.
Danbury (6-2) v. Maumee Valley (4-4), boys basketball, Thurs., Jan. 7: First real league test for Danbury. Currently, Danbury stands at 3-0 in the TAAC and is attempting to mount a challenge for league title honors.
Marion Harding (6-1) v. Lima Senior (4-2), boys basketball, Thurs., Jan. 7: Can the Presidents continue their winning ways? Lima Senior should provide them with a real challenge.
Toledo St. Francis (5-1) v. Toledo Central Catholic (6-0), boys basketball, Friday, Jan. 8: Always a big game but particularly so this year as both teams are entertaining title hopes and, at the same time, jockeying for one of the four league tournament spots. Both teams come into the contest at 2-0 in league play.
Sylvania Northview (8-1) v. Sylvania Southview (8-3), girls basketball, Friday, Jan. 8: This is for all the marbles in the Northern Lakes League. Southview must win or Northview is virtually assured another NLL title.
Toledo St. Francis (7-6-2) v. Bowling Green (6-5-1), hockey, Sunday, Jan. 10: Rematch between two teams that just met last week with Bowling Green upsetting state ranked Northview, 3-0. Wildcats looking to avenge an embarrassing loss.